SME Times News Bureau | 07 Jul, 2020
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways
and MSMEs Nitin Gadkari chaired a Group on Infrastructure meeting in New Delhi
on Tuesday via webcast.
Union Minister for Railways and Commerce Piyush Goyal,
Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Information &
Broadcasting and Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Prakash Javadekar,
and Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways Gen (Retd) V K
Singh participated in the meeting.
Senior officers of the Ministries of Road
Transport & Highways, Railways, Power, Environment and Forests, Railway
Board, NHAI and representatives from the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil
Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka attended the same.
The meeting considered several issues, in respect
of pending infrastructure projects, for resolution.
A major issue raised in the meeting pertained top
outstanding forest clearance for 187 highway projects. It was also noted that
many projects had not yet applied for Stage II forest clearance. The concerned
officers were directed to initiate the process for the same immediately.
It was stressed in the meeting that level
crossings on National Highways need to be removed, as they constitute major
accident spots. It was pointed out that while their designs had been approved
at 167 locations, but the work has not yet started.
MoUs were signed in this respect over 5 years
ago, and there is need to improve performance. In this direction, it was
agreed to monitor the projects under Setubharatam programme on monthly basis.
It also was underlined that 30 road projects are pending with Railways.
However, the Railway Minister assured to resolve
these within two days.
A major issue before infrastructure projects is
tree cutting, however, there are ambiguities over inclusion of certain local
breeds of shrubs and plants in forest cover. An example of Babool or Kikar was
presented in the meeting.
This being an exotic Arabian shrub, its inclusion
in the definition of trees is causing hindrance while considering forest
clearance for several projects.
In Delhi, an ambitious project monitored by PMO,
the Dwarka Expressway, is facing such 1939 Babool shrubs in a total of 6364
trees. It was pointed out that many States like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh
do not cover this shrub in land revenue code as tree.
Gadkari expressed his satisfaction over progress
on outstanding issues by way of meetings between senior level officers of
He said, he always feels that instead of wasting
time and energy on written communications, it is always worthy to sit together
and thrash out issues before each other.
He directed that henceforth a joint meeting be
held between Chairman Railway Board, Director General Forests and Director
General Roads. He said, a meeting every month will solve many issues.
Environment Minister Javadekar was requested to
direct the Forest officers posted in States to follow and implement the circulars
and orders issued by MoE&F and CC.
Special High Powered committees on forest issues
can be conducted as is being done in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Arunachal
Pradesh. It was felt that this step will remove many hindrances in the way of
infrastructure projects, which will save both time and money.
Goyal lauded the idea of this meeting, and said
this is a good initiative of Shri Gadkari. He said, he also got to learn a lot
from this experiment of all stakeholders sitting together for thrashing out the
issues before them.
He requested Gadkari to guide the Group on
Infrastructure on the steps to improve citizen’s cause. He said, Railway and
Highway projects should ideally run parallel to each other, however, due to
difference in gradients, they sometimes part away. But, together these two
bodies can build a number of projects.